Michael McDowell won the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard last weekend in Indianapolis.
McDowell may not be a household name outside of NASCAR circles but that's becoming commonplace in the Cup Series this season after McDowell's win marked the fourth time in '23 that a driver with more than 250 Cup starts and fewer than five series victories won a race. It started with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. winning the Daytona 500, then followed through with Chris Buescher winning two in a row at Richmond and Michigan, and now continues with McDowell taking the checkered flag in Indy.
The reason I bring up McDowell's win is that afterward, Michael, his crew, and his family all performed the tradition at Indy where they knelt down on the track alongside a row of bricks at the start-finish line and kissed those bricks in celebration of their win. That "Yard of Bricks" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is some of the most hallowed ground in worldwide motorsports, and the tradition of kissing the ground was started by Dale Jarrett after his Brickyard 400 victory in 1996.
Here's a shot of Michael and his posse celebrating…
When I saw this happening live, I couldn't help but notice the young man in the orange shirt who was alongside Michael's family every step of the way during his celebration, so I did a quick Google search and learned something extraordinary about a driver I have never met and know very little about.
First off, Michael and his beautiful wife, Jami, have 5 children, which, for the record, is way too many kids in this economy.
Four of his kids (including the baby girl they had just weeks ago) all look like traditional McDowells… They all reside somewhere on the spectrum of blond-to-brown hair, and they all resemble either Michael or Jami in their own way. But there is one other child that stands out as looking, for lack of a better term, "non-McDowell-ish".
And that child is the McDowells' son, Lucas… A kid they adopted from China.
Now, as an adoptive parent myself, I love seeing shit like this, but the story gets so much better.
Lucas was born with a birth defect that caused him to have what Michael has described as "cleft hands and feet." The closest I have seen to Lucas' condition is something called ectrodactyly, a rare genetic condition that causes missing digits on the hands and feet, and syndactyly, which causes fused digits. And the reason I know about ectrodactyly and syndactyly is that my favorite ringside boxing analyst of all time, Jim Lampley, was once married to a woman with those two conditions.
I'm going off on a tangent here, but Jim's now ex-wife is named Bree Walker and she was the first on-air American television network news anchor with such a visible defect.
Anyhoo… Back to Lucas. Lucas was born with what seems to be a similar condition and was abandoned on the street by his family when he was only 5 days old. He was taken to an orphanage where he lived for 3 years before Jami McDowell swooped in (Michael was racing, so he didn't make the trip) and made the young man part of the McDowell family.
And now he is taking a knee alongside his brother and sisters to celebrate their father's second career trip to Victory Lane.
I've said this before… NASCAR drivers are typically wonderful people (outside of Denny Hamlin, of course).
(I'm kidding… Denny is BY FAR mine and Spider's favorite guest on Rubbin')
They are all involved with their own charities and spend an inordinate amount of time giving back to the community and to people less fortunate than themselves.
But what the McDowells did was something truly extraordinary… They saved this little boy's life.
I mentioned above that I am also an adoptive parent… And embarrassingly that might be construed as if my family's decision to take on a child that wasn't biologically ours was similar to the decision Mike and his wife made. But I drove less of a distance to pick up my healthy 2-day-old son than I normally drive to get hot wings on a random Tuesday, whereas Jami flew around the fucking world to pick up a kid that was literally thrown away.
So I said at the beginning of this blog, "I did a quick Google search and learned something about a driver I have never met and know very little about." And now I am SO glad I did because I can use my little platform to spread the word about this outstanding family.
There are a number of drivers that I root for, but I'm now a HUGE fan of
Michael McDowell Lucas' dad.
Take a report.
We break down Michael's victory and its implication on the playoffs as NASCAR rolls into Watkins Glen for the second-to-last race of the regular Cup season on this week's Rubbin' Is Racing…